Father was on board the first ship sunk by the Widder, M.V. British Petrol

Dear Mac Gregory,

I have just been looking at your very interesting feature Marauders of the Sea WW2, having put in a search for Helmut von Ruckteschell. My father was on board the first ship sunk by the Widder, M.V. Britsh Petrol; having been wounded, he spent the next five months on board that ship before being landed in France and spending the next five years as a prisoner of war. He kept a log during that time and together with this and other research I've gathered over the past while, I'm writing a work of semi-fiction about him and other folk involved, so it was very useful to read about von Ruckteschell - my father gave evidence at his trial at the end of the war. Paradoxically, I have a copy of a very moving address he gave at the burial at sea of the chief steward of the Petrol.

Thanks for the information

Best wishes
Jan Evans

Hello Jan,

Thank you for your message, Ahoy is produced via my good friend Terry Kearns in Atlanta Georgia, I do all the writing, and it becomes translated  into our web site by him.

I am continually suprised and delighted by the number of people who take the trouble to contact me and comment about something I have recorded. The German Merchant Raiders did harass and sink a lot of ships in both wars, and many of our Merchant sailors were captured and spent years in captivity, just like your Father.

Please let me know when you finish your work, I trust it becomes part of our history of WW2, and I would love to see a copy of your finished work.

Again, nice to hear from you.

Best wishes from both Terry and myself.
Mac. Gregory.


Dear Mac Gregory
It is with pleasure that Elvira gives permission for you to use Walter's Photograph on your excellent web Site "Ahoy" and she also thanks you for your interest.
What you may not know is that it was due to a letter on your web site earlier in the year with the heading: "Father was on board the first ship sunk by the Widder, MV British Petroleum" that put us on track to find out more about Walter. The letter was written by a Jan Evans who at the time stated that he (she) was completing a work of semi-fiction about his (her) father and others that were involved.
 Do you know if he (she) ever completed it?
Up until that time we only knew that he had been captured (and assumed that his ship has been sunk by a U-boat), and that he was later shot in  the POW camp. Elvira was only 13 at the end of the war but vaguely remembers a person she thinks was the captain of the MV British Petrol calling to see her mother with a shoe box that contained all of Walter's possessions. A few photographs etc.
Re your comments about Murray and Shirley Armstrong, yes they did send the photos of Walters grave to us and we have been studying their web site of their father's log book to find out more about life in a POW camp.
Elvira' elder sister Violet and her husband Ernie (who served with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in WW2) visited Becklington War Cemetery in 1984. Two snaps she took at the time are attached, the other snap is of Walter and presumably other members of his barrack. Unfortunately no names were noted on the photo.
Once again our thanks for your interest
Elvira & Dennis Heath


My thanks for your gracious response about using Walter's photo.
Unfortunately I did not keep Jan's E-mail address, and am not able to now contact her, I did at that time ask her to tell me when she completed her novel, as I would like to get a copy, but I have no heard from her since her original message.
I am now being more circumspect in retaining E-mail addresses, as too often I have been asked to send on a message, and I have culled that address. But, I get a lot of requests, and from time to time have in the past, cleared some addresses out from my book. But, have now decided it does not matter if an address stays in my book for ages, just in case it may be needed at some distant time, in the future. I get upset when I am not able to comply with a request such as your one, so am, as I have said, mending my ways.
Nice to have your comments, thank you.
My kindest regards to you all in NZ.
Mac. Gregory.

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